TENNIS – 2014 Davis Cup. Germany has surprised France on day 1 of the World Group quarter final taking a 2-0 lead. In the first singles match Tobias Kamke defeated Julien Benneteau and the second match of the day Peter Gojowczyk beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Simone Kemler
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga aimed to steady the ship following Julien Benneteau’s opening rubber defeat to Germany’s Tobias Kamke and put France back on course for a place in its third Davis Cup by BNP Paribas semifinal in five years in Nancy. Tsonga took on world No. 119 Peter Gojowczyk for the first time in the second rubber, with the German hoping to spring the second upset of the day after Tobias Kamke’s 7-6(8) 6-3 6-2 triumph over Benneteau in the opening match.
However, Peter Gojowczyk fought the match of his life and caused more than a few problems for Tsonga, having extended world No. 1 Rafael Nadal to three sets in reaching his first Tour-level semifinal at Doha earlier this year. In a tennis fight that lasted over four hours, Gojowczyk claimed victory in five sets 7-5 6-7(3) 7-6(8) 6-8 being shaken with heavy cramps throughout most of the final set. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga again and again tried to take the lead in set five and whenever it was necessary he produced aces to save his neck and repelled the first two German match points. Though Tsonga also had breakpoints in set five he could not take on a solid lead and so opened the door for a unique victory that reminded some of the fans of the legendary match Lendl vs Chang in Paris.
Earlier that day Benneteau had taken to court for just his second appearance in a live singles rubber, and had reason to be confident of securing a result. The 32-year-old world No. 50 had never lost to Kamke, ranked No. 96, in three previous meetings. So much for a foregone conclusion. Benneteau, in the midst of a purple patch in the 32-year-old’s career, was supposed to make short work of Kamke, promoted to No. 1 in the German team in the absence of Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer and Tommy Haas.
But Davis Cup by BNP Paribas being what it is – a competition where victory is only ever won on the court, never on paper – Kamke won 7-6(8) 6-3 6-2 to give the visitors an unexpected lead in their quarterfinal against France at the Palais Des Sports Jean Weille. Those two victories were without doubt the biggest wins of the world No. 96’s and No. 119’s careers and so increase the pressure of the French team that now has to win the doubles match in order to stay in the competition.
Gerard Pique Responds To Criticism From Lleyton Hewitt Over His Involvement In Davis Cup
The 32-year-old is hoping that he can prove critics wrong with the new controversial format.
Kosmos founder Gerard Pique has told The Daily Mail he ‘respects’ the opinion of Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, despite being heavily criticised by the former world No.1.
Pique is the head of the company that is overseeing the transformation of the Davis Cup. Later this year 18 teams will play in a week-long showdown that has been dubbed the ‘World Cup’ of tennis. The revamp, who was approved by a vote last August, has divided opinion within the sport. Australia has been one of the most vocal critics of the revamp with Hewitt taking aim at Pique last month.
“Now we’re getting run by a Spanish football player, which is like me come out and asking to change things for the Champions League,” Hewitt told reporters. “He knows nothing about tennis.”
Responding to the comment for the first time, Pique has tried to cool down the argument. Stating that he has no intention of ‘changing the rules of tennis.’ Although under the new format, Davis Cup matches are now best-of-three sets and the finals will see three matches played per tie instead of five.
“I respect the opinion of Lleyton, he was a great player. What I can say is that while I’m the President of Kosmos we are full of people who know tennis, people like Albert Costa, who has won a Grand Slam.” Pique told The Daily Mail.
“I can understand that when a footballer comes in the tennis world it can seem a little bit awkward or strange, but at the end of the day I’m not going to be changing the rules of tennis. I understand that I’m the new one here and I try to understand everyone. In the time we are living now it is easy to say whatever you think. If it’s with respect it’s fine.”
Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion into the new competition over the next 25 years. Their backers include Indian Wells Masters owner Larry Ellison, Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani and even football superstar Lionel Messi. As a result of Ellison’s involvement, Indian Wells have been mentioned as a strong candidate to hold the Davis Cup finals in the future. Although the logistics may be hard if the ATP Finals continues to be held in London. In the current schedule, the Davis Cup finale takes place straight after the ATP Finals.
“It is something we are talking about and it’s a possibility,” Pique commented about Indian Wells as a venue.
“You have pros and cons, we chose Madrid because it’s next to London. Indian Wells is far away but the facilities are incredible.”
Due to the involvement of the Barcelona F.C. footballer, the competition is referred by some as the ‘Pique Cup.’ Something that doesn’t go down too well with the 32-year-old.
“I hate it, because it’s not about me and I don’t want my name on the competition,” he said. “Davis Cup history is so big. I hope we can change this opinion. After a few years I hope they go back and say “We were wrong, Davis Cup is more alive than ever.”
The Davis Cup finals will be played between November 18-24.
ITF, Kosmos Confident Controversial Davis Cup Revamp Will Be A Hit As Draw Is Unveiled
The groups for the the finals of the team tournament has been decided with ITF President Davis Haggerty describing the event as ‘traditional, whilst having innovation.’
The draw has taken place for the inaugural Davis Cup finals with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) reiterating their support for the controversial new format.
On Thursday evening, 18 teams learned which group they have been placed in during a special ceremony in Madrid. In November 18 teams will participate in a week-long tournament held at the Caja Magica in what will be a historic change to the competition. The changes have been made after the plans was voted for in August by the majority of national tennis federations (71%). Although critics argue the change is too radical and kills the Davis Cup. There has also been heavy criticism regarding the decision to hold the finals at a neutral venue.
“Davis Cup is all about keeping tradition whilst having innovation at the same time.” Said ITF President David Haggerty.
“All of us have a special place in your heart for the Davis Cup, we all care about it. But where we are going with the Davis Cup is going to elevate it and make it better.” He later added.
There will be a total of six groups in the finals with three teams featuring in each one. Reigning champions Croatia has been placed alongside home favourites Spain and Russia. France, who were runners-up in 2018, will take on Serbia and Japan. Meanwhile, wild card entrants Great Britain has been given a favourable group alongside Kazakhstan and the Netherlands. The winner of each group and the two best second placed countries will progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Group A: France, Serbia, Japan
Group B: Croatia, Spain, Russia
Group C: Argentina, Germany, Chile
Group D: Belgium, Australia, Colombia
Group E: Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Netherlands
Group F: US, Italy, Canada
Overseeing the competition is investment firm Kosmos, whose 25-year $3 billion investment was pivotal is changing the Davis Cup. The company was founded by Barcelona F.C. footballer Gerard Pique. Who has generated both admiration and hate from the tennis community in recent months. Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt recently told reporters, ‘Now we’re getting run by a Spanish football player, which is like me come out and asking to change things for the Champions League.’
“I have been a fan of tennis since I was a kid. I saw the Davis Cup as an opportunity for a competition that can be great in the future.” Pique said in Spanish during the draw ceremony.
“I think we (Kosmos) are a great partner for the ITF to organise this competition and we truly believe that in the future, starting from this year, it will get better and better.”
Whilst there is enthusiasm, winning over die hard fans is proving to be a harder than expected. ITF chief Haggerty was questioned about the critics during the presentation, but refused to let it overshadow proceedings.
“I would encourage those people who are concerned about it to come to Madrid and see for yourselves.” He said.
The Davis Cup finals will take place between 18-24 November. All ties will consist of two singles matches and one in the doubles. All matches will be best-of-three sets.
Davis Cup Finals schedule
|Day||Round||Number of teams|
|18–21 Nov (Monday–Thursday)||Round Robin||18 (6 groups of 3 teams)|
|22 Nov (Friday)||Quarterfinals||8 (6 group winners + 2 best second place)|
|23 Nov (Saturday)||Semifinals||4 (automatically qualified for 2020 Davis Cup Finals)|
|24 Nov (Sunday)||Final||2|
Poland To Take ITF To Court In Row Over Davis Cup Rankings As Other Nations Voice Anger
A fresh row is brewing in the world of tennis after a series of tennis federations in recent days have expressed their displeasure with the new ranking system for the Davis Cup.
The Polish Tennis Federation (PZT) has announced that they are to launch an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the wake of the new system that has been implemented in the Davis Cup.
A change to the Davis Cup ranking system this year has resulted in the Polish team being placed in World Group III. Even though they scored wins over Romania, Slovenia and Zimbabwe last year to qualify for Group I under the old system. The reason why they have been regulated back to the third group is because the new Kosmos-backed competition takes into account points won over the past four years. Something that has outraged the PZT and their players.
“As the PZT management board, we will fight to return where we should be.” Vice-president Victor Archutowski told the Polish Press Agency.
“We are at the stage of choosing a law firm that will handle the appeal that we will send to CAS. We have already prepared documentation. We will fight. We have interviewed ITF members that give little hope. We should know their answer within two weeks.”
The Federation are appealing for their team to be reinstated back into Group I. If that fails, they will be claiming for compensation from the International Tennis Federation for their players who will have to player in the lower group. The PZT has ruled out the possibility of a boycott because of the impact it could have on the Olympic qualification process for their players.
“We were thinking about setting up a substitute squad, but the players are obliged to perform in them in order to be able to play in the Olympic games afterwards.” Explained Archutowski.
“Next year, we could have had a Davis Cup match in Tokyo, so if they did not play now, we would block them from joining the Olympic tournament.”
Support From allies
In the wake of the ranking system, other countries have also expressed their anger over the current situation. Calude Lamberty, who is the president of Tennis Luxembourg, has sent a formal letter to the ITF. In it, the federation said they ‘disagreed’ and was ‘disappointed’ by the new system. Pledging their full support behind Poland. The letter has also been signed by the national director of the Davis Cup, Markus Stegmann.
“The system applied, depending exclusively on the nations ranking, is at least in our appreciation against all sports principles. In the play-off tie last year in April, our team won against the Georgian team and achieved by that, according to Davis Cup rules, to stay in Group II. Now, after the qualifiers for the world finals, our team is, despite this sporting achievement last year, related to Group III and Georgia, who should have been relegated considering the results of last year, remains instead of Luxemburg in Group II. Even worse is the case of Poland, which gets relegated to Group III instead of going up into Group I.” An extract from the letter reads.
Monaco’s chief representative in the sport has branded the changes as ‘sportingly unacceptable.’ Elizabeth-Ann de Me Massy, who is the president of her national tennis association, says the new format has a negative impact on both players and fans.
The I.T.F. is very performant and productive as far as accumulating actions and decisions which is killing the Davis Cup, one of the most prestigious worldwide Tennis Competition with almost 120 years of History. Now, the new rules concerning the different group levels of the 2019 format are just sportingly unacceptable.
It will be more and more difficult for players and sponsors to keep their motivation and for the fans their enthusiasm. The Monaco Tennis Federation stands fully by other federations facing the same issue: Luxembourg, Poland, Montenegro, Estonia, Namibia and Kenya.
Outside of Europe, there is also frustration in other countries. Last June Kenya won the Africa Group III championship. Booking their place in the Euro/Africa Group II group at the time. However, following the Davis Cup revamp they are not ranked high enough to play in the group they have technically qualified for in 2018. Kenya believes that have a disadvantage before they were unable to field a team to play in the 2015 team event. Therefore they were unable to get any points.
“We are very disappointed since we didn’t know the changes adopted at the AGM would affect the Davis Cup format in 2019,” Tennis Kenya chairman James Kenani told The Daily Nation. “It’s demoralising to countries even if the prize money in Davis Cup has been increased.”
Kenani has said that both Kenya and Poland launched an appeal to the ITF Arbitration Committee, but it was rejected. Kenya had already put in place a budget of roughly Sh8.7 million for their team to play in Euro/Africa Group II.
“Alternatively, the changes should have come into effect after 2019 since teams had already qualified in 2018. You can’t punish countries who had invested their energies to qualify because a new sponsor has come on board,” Kenani argues. “They say countries are bound to benefit immensely but that is not how to manage events.”
Like Kenya, Namibia are also in the same situation after finishing runners-up in Africa Group III last year.
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